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Staff Contributor

THE ROCK FATHER: The Pop Culture & Lifestyle Magazine for Families that Rock.

It's the premiere destination for the best in entertainment for the ENTIRE family, kids and grownups alike. Featuring the latest news and reviews on Music, Movies, TV, Comics, Books, Toys & Games, and lifestyle coverage including Home & Garden, Automotive, Cool Products and more, THE ROCK FATHER has it all...

Many people have a long list of projects in mind when they first buy their home, but these can get put off sometimes for a longer time than they originally plan. When you start looking at that long to-do list of home projects you've been waiting on, you might not necessarily know where to start. Larger renovations can take time, money, and a lot of serious effort, but before you get started, there are a few things you should know and take care of first.

Contact A Contractor

Even if you're planning on tackling the bulk of the work on your renovation yourself, it's important to have a professional weigh in. In 2017, approximately 8.4 million people were employed within the construction industry in the United States, so there are plenty of professionals you can reach out to near you. Having a professional opinion keeps you from taking on projects that are too big to handle. As about 35% of remodeling jobs involve the entire home, that professional opinion may be invaluable.

Know Your Restrictions

Not all renovations can happen the way you might initially plan on. Many areas have specific codes and regulations that could affect your plans for remodeling your home. Different jurisdictions, for example, may require residential fencing to be set two, four, six, or eight inches from the property line. These regulations aren't just at the state level, either. There are 67 counties in Pennsylvania alone, each with slightly different building requirements. Be sure to read up and research your restrictions before you start to avoid problems later on.

Set A Strict Budget

One of the most common problems people run into when they start renovating their house is that they run out of money to tackle all of the projects they initially had in mind. It can be easy to get carried away with spending, but do your best to stick to your initial budget for your home repairs and renovations. That way, you'll be able to take on all of the projects on your list, rather than getting stuck on one particular issue that ends up costing more than you expect.

Don't Trust TV

As entertaining as the many TV shows about home renovation can be, don't look to those shows as a reliable source of information for your own build. Many of these shows have special price points worked out with regular providers, meaning the costs you see might not always be the costs you pay. Additionally, episodes are edited for time, meaning you won't be seeing the full process from start to finish on TV.

Stay Safe

Most importantly, before you start on any major home renovations, make sure the space is as safe as possible. Put up any gates or barriers needed to keep young children and pets out of areas where they could get hurt, and stock up on any protective equipment you might need. No matter what happens with your renovation, you want to keep your home as safe as possible during the process.

Home renovations can be stressful, but taking these steps before you start can simplify the process. How do you plan to tackle your major home renovations in the future?

Monday, June 10 2019 21:47

4 Hobbies To Beat Summer Boredom

Summer is finally here, with weather perfect for getting outside and trying something new. If you've been itching for a new project or hobby to fill your time with, now is the best time of year to get started. You'll be able to explore outdoor hobbies that require warmer weather, as well as learn about options that you can entertain yourself with year round. Here are a few awesome new hobbies for you to check out this summer while the weather's still beautiful.

Creative Construction

Have you been putting off on your home repairs and general to-do list? Instead of looking at it like a chore, consider it the start of your new DIY or woodworking hobby. Being able to handle your own home repairs can help you save money while putting all the personal touches you want into your home. Just make sure you've got the right tools for the job. Among contractors, 84% say their most commonly used cordless power tool is the power drill.

Classic Cars

Whether you're looking to get into racing or just like the feel of a classic car, learning about auto repair can get you started on a variety of hobbies this summer. For a real challenge, try fixing up an older, classic car that you buy used. Between private-party and dealership sales, nearly 40 million used cars exchange hands each year, and there's a good chance you'll be able to buy a used car in need of repair for a reasonable price.

Engaging Exercise

With the summer comes warm weather, so now's the perfect time to try out a new sport or exercise routine to keep you active. There's a sport out there for everyone, whether you settle on something more relaxing like golf or high-intensity like parkour or rock-climbing. It doesn't take much activity to impact your lifestyle for the better. In fact, engaging in just 10 minutes of physical activity every day can help you improve mobility and live longer. Look for sports that you can use either as a chance to get away and take some time for yourself or alternatively get the family involved for an extra bit of motivation.

Get Out The Grill

For a hobby that your family is sure to love just as much as you, it's time to break out the grill and get to work. Grilling and cooking can be great summer activities, and even if you don't want to grill during the colder seasons of the year, you'll be able to take your skills and turn them into an appreciation for finer foods and barbecue. Just make sure you're cleaning and preparing your grill properly, or you'll have a hard time setting it up come next summer.

Get out there and try something out of the norm! Fishing, for instance, may seem to be more popular with older generations, but more than 60% of participants in 2017 were under the age of 45. Why not give it a go? Summer is the perfect time for you to discover your new favorite hobby or pick up an old one that you've put on the back burner for a while. How do you plan to make the most of the warmer season for your favorite hobbies?

When it comes to vehicle maintenance and repairs, even the smallest task can seem daunting if you don't know what you're doing. Auto maintenance and repairs take practice, knowledge, and experience -- so it's okay if you don't know what to do right away. But if you're looking to become handier and tackle some basic repair tasks on your own, take a look at these few tips to help you get started.

Inspect Your Vehicle Regularly

One of the most important things you should do, whether you plan on making repairs yourself or not, is inspect your vehicle on a regular basis. By assessing the various components of your vehicle, you can learn more about how the car works, which parts go where, and you'll spot signs of damage. Looking at your car and seeing signs of wear and tear or damage is important because you'll then know if maintenance or repairs need to be done. And you can get a better feel for when routine maintenance, like an oil change or tire rotation, needs to be done. So take a detailed look at your vehicle regularly to stay on top of problems.

Do Some Research

If you're new to auto repairs, then it's essential that you take the time to do some research. You should start by reading your vehicle's manual, which will tell you about various components and when routine maintenance tasks should be completed. After that, consider checking out YouTube videos or reading through Internet forums for detailed information and instructions regarding various repairs. As long as your vehicle is pretty common, there's bound to be a lot of information about it on the Internet. So do some basic research to expand your knowledge before tackling any repair tasks.

Be Prepared

When it comes time to finally work on your vehicle, you need to be prepared. This means having your workspace set up and having the right tools. You'll need some basic tools, like a jack stand and a torque wrench, and a large, even space to park your car on. Make sure you clear plenty of space so you have room to get around your vehicle with ease. You should also keep some baggies and sharpies on hand so you can label parts and keep them organized as you're taking them off or replacing them. Being prepared with the basics will help you get off to a good start.

With there being about 5.5 million car accidents every year in the U.S., you may find your vehicle damaged sooner than you'd think. So with these few basic tips for beginners, you'll be well on your way to performing simple maintenance and repair tasks in no time.

Facebook has become one of the most influential organizations in the entire world. Founded in 2004 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the website grew from a college social networking service to a global leader in advertising, media, and so much more. Though Facebook has certainly come under scrutiny for account privacy, "fake news," and company governance, they still have upwards of 2.3 billion monthly active users.

Facebook isn't going anywhere.

According to Venture Beat, Facebook has announced numerous new updates that will improve the user experience for both personal and professional accounts.

Ahead of its annual F8 developer conference in San Jose, California, Facebook announced Project LightSpeed, which is a completely rebuilt Messenger app that will be more than two-thirds smaller than the existing program -- with the ability to launch in less than two seconds.

These new updates are great for the average user, but marketers will be able to use to interact with their employees, network, and engage with customers. Since up to 20% of the population moves each year, companies have 20% new customers to attract via local and digital advertising.

Currently, there are 40 million active businesses and 300,000 developers on Facebook's Messenger app, up from 200,000 developers a year ago. The revamped version will allow users to book appointments, collect information through lead generation chatbot templates, and provide customer service to verified customers. The ability to offer quality customer service is crucial since 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.

"We believe you can build practically any utility on top of messaging," said Stan Chudnovsky, Facebook's head of Messenger. "All of the engineering behind it is has been redone. Utilities will be more powerful, more functional and more desired if built on top of a system that’s interoperable and end-to-end encrypted."

Additionally, since video sharing is vital to Facebook's success, the new app will feature improved video services for users. In a 2017 report, 81% of marketers said they optimize social videos for mobile. The new Messenger will enable video co-watching, meaning users can select videos to watch at the same time with friends, coworkers, customers, and influencers.

"We are working to be world class for our community for the primary things that people expect in a messaging app," added Asha Sharma, director for Messenger consumer products. "We will make Messenger fast, private, interoperable, and a space for close friends and family."

The company hasn't given a specific launch date for Project LightSpeed but users can expect this new messaging program sometime in 2019.

The world's largest supplier of auto-parts is teaming up with a leading fuel-cell stack maker to create the technology that will be key to the automotive industry's greener future. Last month, German supplier Bosch announced that it will co-develop polymer-electrolyte membrane fuel cells with Swedish manufacturer Powercell.

Once the two companies create this sustainable technology, Bosch will manufacture the fuel cells under a global license. According to a statement emailed to Bloomberg, the stack will become a part of Bosch's lineup of fuel-cell products and is expected to be launched by 2022 at the latest.

The basic premise of fuel-cell technology is that they turn hydrogen into electricity. For years, hydrogen fuel cells have been celebrated as a potential replacement for less sustainable energy cultivation methods, including the 2.5 million miles of pipeline that transfer fuel products from source to market in the United States. Although the technology promises minimal environmental impact from its simple emittance of water vapor, high costs and a lack of infrastructure have made it difficult for the cells to gain major traction.

Before Bosch's recent announcement, Toyota Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motor Co. were the biggest fuel-cell backers in the industry. Toyota alone is projected to produce about 11 million vehicles in 2023 and has already started incorporating fuel cell technology into its large trucks. Now that Bosch is in the game, the future of hydrogen fuel cells is looking a bit different.

Bosch predicts that as much as 20% of global electric vehicles will use hydrogen fuel cells by 2030. Bosch needs to reduce the costs of fuel cell systems and, in particular, the pricey stacks to make this growth possible.

According to Dr. Stefan Hartung, Bosch associate director and chairman of the Mobility Solutions division, commercializing the technology will be a driving force in decreasing the costs for hydrogen fuel. Commercializing the technology for passenger cars and trucks will certainly be an essential step in the United States, as there is a shortage of hydrogen filling infrastructure in the country.

Efforts from U.S. lawmakers are also aimed at making sustainable cars a more viable option for production and purchase. In early April, a bipartisan coalition introduced the Driving America Forward Act in Congress with the support of at least 60 organizations that included automakers, electric vehicle suppliers, and environmental organizations. If enacted, the legislation will extend the one-time federal tax credit for buyers of electric, plug-in hybrid, and hydrogen-powered vehicles.

Currently, the credits an automaker receives begin to phase out during the calendar year after it sells 200,000 electric cars and/or plug-in hybrids. Tesla hit that mark last year, causing its federal tax break to drop on July 1 and expire completely at the end of 2019. General Motors, an industry powerhouse headed by a female CEO who is among the 27 women leading Fortune 500 companies, also reached 200,0000 electric vehicle sales last year and will soon face a similar loss in tax breaks.

The Act would allow purchasers of an additional 400,000 vehicles per manufacturer to be eligible for a slightly smaller one-time tax credit. Once it reaches 600,000 qualifying vehicle sales, the credit would drop more and phase out after six months. The bill would also extend the hydrogen fuel cell credit through 2028, providing manufacturers and buyers with even more incentive for eco-friendly cars.

According to industry sources, losing the tax credits would stifle developments in the electric vehicle market. With initiatives such as Bosch's recent fuel-cell partnership with Powercell, the market can't afford interference with potential advancements.

Not only can Bosch's fuel-cell technology help the environment, but its existing portfolio can help make the roads safer. Bosch already has fuel cell components that include control units with sensors, a safety-focused tool that could reduce the 40,100 people who were killed in car accidents in 2017.

Not every part of your home was designed to last forever. In fact, if it's been a while since your last major home repairs, it's likely that there's something in your home that needs to be repaired or replaced. Larger home maintenance and repair tasks can seem a bit daunting, especially if you don't know when major appliances and items throughout your home need to be swapped out. Here's a simple guide to what might need to be replaced in your home, and when you need to look at replacing them.

When do I Need To Replace My Water Heaters?

Water heaters are one of the key appliances in your home, and while they don't often need replacing, it's important to keep track of when they're nearing the end of their lifespans. A standard water heater only lasts 10 to 15 years before corrosion attacks the tank walls and it starts to break down. If you notice problems with hot water in your home or appliances that use hot water, like a dishwasher, give your plumber a call. It might mean that it's time to replace this utility in your home.

When Do I Need To Replace My HVAC Systems?

Your home's heating and cooling is essential to staying comfortable year-round, and keeping it in good shape and well-maintained is a must. As a typical family spends about a third of its annual heating and cooling budget — roughly $350 — on air that leaks into or out of the house through unintended gaps and cracks, continued maintence on this unit is crucial.At the very least, HVAC systems need to be inspected twice yearly for maximum efficiency. It's likely that your HVAC system won't need to be fully replaced for quite some time unless something breaks down fully, and even then, it's usually better to replace individual parts. Some parts are meant to be swapped out on a regular basis, like the filter; most HVAC system filters need to be changed every one to three months.

When Do I Need To Replace My Carpets And Flooring?

Believe it or not, even the floor in your house has an expiration date. Certain types of flooring can trap more dirt, dust, and germs than others depending on the material it's made out of, giving some flooring options shorter lifespans. Carpeting, for example, is only meant to last eight to ten years, with some carpeting lasting even less time in higher traffic areas. On the other end of the spectrum, wood flooring, especially wood flooring that is well cared for and maintained, can last for a hundred years or more. When selecting flooring for your home, be sure to account for the lifetime cost of your material choice.

Appliances And Appliance Parts

Even if your years-old refrigerator is still working great, you might want to consider an appliance upgrade sometime soon. Modern appliances are designed to be more energy efficient, meaning you'll end up spending less on energy bills. However, if you want to keep your old appliances, it's still important to replace certain parts every so often to keep them operating efficiently. For example, most newer refrigerators will have an indicator to tell you when to replace your water filter, but if yours doesn't, try to replace the filter every six to twelve months. And if you need a washer and dryer, remember that The Rock Father™ says never buy Samsung.

Keeping track of everything in your home that needs replacing can be a hassle, but doing so guarantees your house is in good repair. Have you replaced any of these items as part of your spring cleaning?

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